MP Duncan Inquires about Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Healthcare and Social Services

Member of Parliament Solange Ludmila Duncan


PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Member of Parliament Solange Ludmila Duncan sent a letter to the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor inquiring about the impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare sector and in particular mental health and social service provision.

“Covid-19 has not only had a tremendous effect on our economy but also on the mental health of our people. There has been a visible increase in mentally ill persons walking the roads lately. There also appears to be more homelessness since the onset of the pandemic. Government has a responsibility to ensure that our most vulnerable residents receive the full range of welfare services available to them as per the law,” stated Duncan.

On Wednesday 7th April, the Member of Parliament sent a number of questions to the Minister of VSA in order to ascertain the Ministry’s current policies and processes for providing support to persons who are in dire need of mental health and social services.

“Covid-19 has exacerbated the gaps that already existed in our healthcare sector. For persons who have lost both jobs and loved ones due to Covid-19, it is important that they do not remain in emotional isolation. In addition to food programs, we also need social outreach programs,” noted the MP.

“I have also inquired whether the Ministry is monitoring and evaluating the provision of telemedicine and teletherapy. Some patients have not physically seen their doctors in a year. Diagnoses are still being conducted through phone conversations. This has increased efficiency on one end but what will be the general policy moving forward?” added Duncan.

Duncan has also asked the Minister of VSA about budget provision to the Mental Health Foundation and any other organizations who provide social services to the general public.
“With Government’s current financial constraints it will be difficult to increase the amount of services being provided. It is important however to collect as much data as possible on the needs of our people including the varying levels of poverty and vulnerability and the capacities of the social systems in place. I would like to see a State of Health report that will paint a clear picture of the impact of Covid-19 on our entire healthcare sector and possible ways forward,” concluded the MP.